Andrew Brown, manager of T M Sutton pawnbrokers in Belgravia, central London, said: 'The gents tend to pledge watches, some of them very expensive ones. We're getting upwards of 30 or 40 Rolex watches a week, worth between pounds 500 and pounds 4,000 each.'
His shop was full of jewellery from women who, he believed, had got carried away with the Christmas shopping. 'It's an age-old problem. These women overspend on their credit cards, and don't want their husbands finding out. So they come to us.'
At Uncle's The Original Pawnbrokers, which has four shops in Birmingham, one businessman recently pawned his Bentley Turbo R, worth pounds 128,000, to borrow pounds 35,000. Another pawned an E-type Jaguar, valued at pounds 42,000, to raise pounds 8,000.
A spokesman for the National Pawnbrokers Association said: 'There's not such a stigma attached to going to pawnbrokers - a lot more people are using them.'